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Pestilence - Spheres
Review: A prevalent jazz fusion and pride in newly-learned technical skills fronts this album as a near justification for experimentation in atmospheric metal and jazz harmony, turning the self-indulgent into a forum for great flexibility in vertical tone motion within metal/ Otherwise death- and speed-metal pattern riffs etched to the offtime precision rhythms of this band support its weight through diligent constructivism, linking idea and visceral reality with each change in a systemic butterfly effect of meme propagation.
Surreal in the breathtaking expansion of compositional fragments into coherent statement, this album achieves each slice of the metal existence from highest to lowest. Depth in harmony and pensive extended soloing hold court alongside explosive power chord riffing, mixing ideas through melodic continuity and an emphasis on the modes and harmonies of metal music. Of shock to many were the MIDI guitars used on this album which enable musicians to create from a guitar the voices of many instruments, leading to an absurdist collage of jazz-toned guitar and complex synthesizer nebulae drifting past in the endless night of expected rhythmic continuity.
Self-indulgent in the way almost any music with a drop of progressive blood tends to be this music exceeds its own boundaries while reaching somewhat too far, and not achieving either end of its journey. Death metal interrupted by the soothing timbres of modern jazz instrumentation clashes with its own desire to disrupt, and the attempts of musicians to work freeform jazz within pop music formats as commonly occurs produces here a jarring and unsettling distraction. Sparse in arrangement of basic components, songs do not live up to the metal expectation of dynamic, yet fail to manipulate it further than on a basic level of intensity switched with a polar direction.
All things negative said, this album remains one of the premier items in the Pestilence discography for its ambition and the creativity of songwriting in fourth generation music from one of the founding acts of death metal. Its space rock and jazz influences become secondary to the nearly perfected diligence of riff building, making the utterly simple function for complex effect with all extraneous motion removed. In this and in the subconscious hope this album breathes a pained desire for clarity and normalcy within the intense alienation of death metal, yet in its musical language alone achieves it.